A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Posts published in the Entrepreneurs category:

My Stake in the Ground: What I’m Building This Year

Local business It’s been just over a year since my last company failed/got acquired, and I’m excited to announce the project I’m going to be working on for the foreseeable future!

I’ve long been frustrated by the state of marketing information for small businesses. It’s what led me to start my last company, and, today, a bit more than year after that company failed, I still get the strongest sense that that’s where I want to be as a founder and CEO. What’s out there now stinks!

Small Business Owners’ Issues with Marketing

In talking to small business owners, two big issues regarding marketing come up consistently:

1) “I have no time to do any of this.” What I see here that has huge potential: A system that makes intelligent recommendations for you and then offers you the choice to do that or hire it out to a trusted provider for a fee. We can also show you how much time each item is going to take to do.

2) “I don’t know what will give me the highest ROI.” What we can do here: Use intelligent recommendations to give you the highest-leverage items to do first. For instance, if you don’t have a website with a title optimized for your SEO keywords, we’d highlight that first, as opposed to–say–adding ALT tags to your images, which is going to be a lower-value item.

I still don’t know why this doesn’t exist. It’s where we were headed previously with Whoosh Traffic as we pivoted into MarketVibe.

My best guess on why it isn’t out there today is that small businesses are notoriously hard to gather as customers, and they don’t like to pay a lot of money for marketing. Still, HubSpot seems to be doing well (they currently claim 15,000+ paying customers on their homepage), and email marketing companies like MailChimp and Aweber are also thriving.

Going Back to Where My Heart Is

When we went for this out of Techstars a year and a half ago, I got dissuaded from the small business market and I lost my focus. That was my failing–as CEO, I should have stuck to my guns and said, “Look, this is our market!” I’ve always felt most passionate about serving that market. It’s hard when you are told by investors and mentors over and over that it’s difficult to build for that market. I think they’re right–it is hard–but I should have done it anyway, because it’s where my heart is.

The other big mistake I made was focusing on the software first. This time, I’m going to build it totally differently. I’m going to build it as education first, and then gradually work my way into the software/intelligent recommendations side.

Who I’m Looking For as Beta Testers

I’m looking for Real Business Owners (small businesses with a physical presence–this could be anyone from people who have a retail store, like John, to people who are personal trainers, coaches, or massage therapists), and build a course that shows them how to market their products or services effectively.

I’ll walk through what John and I have done to grow his business from a “pocket change” business generating less than $2,000/month to a powerhouse that is on track to generate over a quarter of a million dollars in revenue this year. By the way, we’ve done that in 6 months and we’ve spent less than $2,000 on marketing. And we have an ugly-ass website. It is possible!

This is what I most want to do. This is my stake in the ground. I’m tired of people telling me that I shouldn’t work with small business owners because they are difficult and frugal. Great! I am also difficult and frugal. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think we’ll be just fine.

Today, I’m announcing the acquisition of the domain name freedom.biz, where I’ll be building my new course for Real Business Owners. My goal is to launch the first iteration of the course by the end of June, and build a fantastic community of awesome business owners. For this first iteration, Freedom.Biz will be training on how to get more customers for a real (physical) business. Then, based on your feedback, I’ll build software, help you find done-for-you services that work, and continue adding to the course and community!

Are you a coach, consultant, store owner, or Real Business Owner who’s interested in being a beta tester for Freedom.Biz? I’d love to have you on board as a beta tester. Sign up here and I’ll keep you in the loop!

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“What Kind of Business Should I Start?” A Surprising Answer from A Successful Entrepreneur

What kind of business to start I often get asked what you might think is a simple question: “What kind of business should I start?”

For the first time in many years, I find myself in the same boat as the folks who ask me that question. I (surprisingly) don’t have a concrete answer to this question for myself right now–but, as I’ll show you in this post, I have a way to figure it out. (more…)

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Why “Charge Less” is Almost Always the Wrong Advice

When I decided to become a coach in July, I sought out several experienced coaches for advice. After all, if I was going to make this my new business, I wanted to know what to do–and what not to do–to make my business successful!

One coach I spoke to advised me, “Charge less so you can build up a client base.” At the time, I had an almost visceral reaction to it. I replied, “No, I’m going to charge more.” She looked at me with surprise. (more…)

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How I Helped Ramit Sethi Break Through Barriers and Earn Millions of Dollars

This post could potentially help you create the next huge online business. I’ll get into that more below, but first, since you’ve been asking, here’s what happened in the aftermath of my last blog post!

It’s been 2 1/2 months since I shared the story of my startup failing here on my blog. And I’m happy to announce I can now share the epilogue to that story: After I wrote the post, Whoosh Traffic was acquired by another local Austin company, OwnLocal. (more…)

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How to Find the Perfect New Business Idea

New business idea Starting a new business, but stuck on finding the perfect idea? I hear you. In fact, you’re not alone.

Recently, I asked people who opted-in for more information on my upcoming “Art of Email” course what they needed most in their businesses. Although many people said “Customers!”, several people asked how they would go about finding the perfect new business idea.

Let’s talk about that. I know the phase you’re in when you’re stuck on the idea. You want to start a business. It pays better (maybe!), offers more flexible time by allowing you to set your own hours, and gets you out from under the thumb of a boss. Plus, it’d be awesome to work for yourself and get people to sign up for something you’re doing for them.

The problem is making the leap from where you are now to actually having a successful business. In this post, we’ll work together on the first few steps to get you to the point of building your new business’s foundation.

First, to have a business, you need two clearly-identified items: (more…)

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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